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Originally published August 23, 2013 at 8:26 PM | Page modified August 23, 2013 at 8:43 PM

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Fred Couples has much better start to Boeing Classic than last year

In 2012, Couples was forced out after just one stroke because of a sore back.

Special to The Seattle Times

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This is my must watch event of the weekend. Will be pulling hard for Fred to win. MORE

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SNOQUALMIE – Fred Couples took 68 more strokes Friday than he did a year ago in the first round of the Boeing Classic.

In 2012, Couples teed off on the first hole then withdrew with severe back pain that kept him in bed for days.

This year, he shot a 3-under 69 and was in a three-way tie for seventh place after the first round, three strokes behind leader Bart Bryant with two rounds to play.

After the round, Couples admitted to having some preround trepidation on the driving range at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge because of the back trauma last year.

“It was definitely on my mind,” he said, comparing the situation to a football or basketball player returning to the site of a knee injury. “I was putting myself through stress.”

This time, it wasn’t Couples’ back that misbehaved but his 6-iron, which he intends to replace. The club was off target at the 13th, 17th and 18th holes.

On the par-5 18th, Couples said he had the “easiest shot in the world and instead of cutting it, I hit a pull.” The ball landed in thick downhill rough just above a bunker. He got the ball to squirt out over the bunker and two-putted from 25 feet for par.

Couples wore a Seahawks hat on the final two holes, hoping it would bring him luck. It didn’t.

“I tried to change the mojo wearing this hat on 17, and I still bogeyed the hole,” he said.

Couples will have opportunities throughout football season to wear it because he has purchased Seahawks season tickets even though he lives in Los Angeles.

And after postround interviews, the best golfer in Washington history was off to a buddy’s house to watch the Seahawks and a replay of Eastlake’s loss to Connecticut in the Little League World Series.

Notes

• There were no birdies all day at the 205-yard par-3 17th hole.

Mark Calcavecchia, winner of the 2011 Boeing Classic, withdrew after 12 holes with a bad back. He was 5-over par. Calcavecchia’s exit left the field with 13 winners of PGA Tour majors. The highest number was 17 in 2011, and the lowest was four in 2006.

• There were two streaks of four consecutive birdies. Bernhard Langer birdied holes 5-8 and leader Bart Bryant birdied holes 3-6. Langer, the 2010 Boeing champion, saw his streak of consecutive holes on the Champions Tour without a bogey end at 50 with a bogey on No. 11.

• The only golfer with a bogey-free round was Bobby Clampett, who is tied for second at 5-under 67.

Tom Lehman eagled the par-5 18th hole to complete a strong finish. Lehman played the final four holes in 4 under and the final six in 5 under. He finished at 3-under 69.

• Portland native Peter Jacobsen shot a 2-under 70. This is his first appearance in the tournament since 2005. Until this year, Jacobsen had hosted a golf event in Portland every summer.

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